Idols in Our Lives Today
KLMX Ministerial Alliance
1st Baptist Church, Des Moines, NM
Hello- I’m Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. This past week we’ve been looking at the subject of idolatry in the Bible. We covered a lot of ground, always starting from the 1st Commandment. We first looked at God’s righteousness in declaring “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” We then looked at examples from Judges and 1 Kings which illustrated man’s tendency to fall back to idolatry, even after having seen the miracles of God. We identified some idols, specifically the Baals and Asherah and Ashteroth. Yesterday, we saw the power of God over these idols, in Elijah’s confrontation on Mount Carmel. Having seen all this idolatry in the Old Testament, let’s look today at idolatry in the New Testament and then in our own lives today. I’m going to ask God Almighty, beside whom there is no other god, to bless this message. May it pierce your heart and lead you to repentance, to the glory of God, through Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray. Amen.
First, let’s review the first commandment again:
Exodus 20:1-6 And God spoke all these words, saying: (2) "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. (3) "You shall have no other gods before Me. (4) "You shall not make for yourself a carved image any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Here is the basis for our series of messages this week. This is the first and foremost of the 10 Commandments. People often like to look at the others and declare “I’ve never committed adultery! I’ve never killed anyone! I’ve never even lied…well, not on purpose and not a BIG lie!” But the truth of the matter is that all of us have had other gods besides God Almighty. An easy way to look at this is to examine your free time. When you’re not working, what do you do? Do you amuse yourself, or do you seek God? Do you look forward to worship on Sunday or do you resent the time it takes from your weekend? Given the choice between working, playing, or worshiping God, which do you choose? And remember, God says that we must love him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind. The word “all” means there can be no room for anything else. There can be no other gods beside God Almighty. Even Christ Himself was tempted by idolatry!
In Matthew, in a passage that I’ve used many times, we see:
Matthew 4:1-11 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (2) And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. (3) Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." (4) But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE, BUT BY EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.' " (5) Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, (6) and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER YOU,' and, IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' " (7) Jesus said to him, "It is written again, 'YOU SHALL NOT TEMPT THE LORD YOUR GOD.' " (8) Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. (9) And he said to Him, "All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me." (10) Then Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.' " (11) Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
Note here that Satan saved the best for the last in his temptation of Christ. First, he tempted Christ to break his fasting and satisfy his fleshy desires, that is, to feed himself. Then he tempted him to show His power and receive glory as a result. And finally, he tempted him with a kingdom (which wasn’t his to give!) if Christ would just fall down and worship him. Satan still acts in all these ways today. He tempts our flesh through sex, gluttony, and material things. He tempts us through the offer of power and riches, often using Scripture to do this. And finally, he tempts us to worship other gods beside God Almighty. Being sinful men, we often fall for these temptations but Christ’s response was “Away with you Satan! For it is written YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND HIM ONLY YOU SHALL SERVE.” And then devil left him.
It’s this last temptation that we should examine a little further. Anything that distracts us from a full and complete worship of God can be considered a false god.
Matthew 6:21-24 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (22) "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. (23) But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (24) "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
Anytime you forsake assembling together with other believers, ask yourself- “Why am I not getting together to worship and edify my brothers and sisters?” The Matthew verse says that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. And you will be where your heart wants to be. Given a choice between watching football on TV and going to church or going to a small gathering of brothers and sisters, which do you choose? And why? Is your heart with the game and not with your fellow Christians? Be honest with yourself when you answer this question. You can fool yourself, but there’s no fooling God. Many times people say “Well, I’m not going to church today because we’re having a family gathering.” Family is good, but let’s look at a few verses.
Mark 3:31-35 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. (32) And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You." (33) But He answered them, saying, "Who is My mother, or My brothers?" (34) And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! (35) For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother."
Luke 9:59-62 Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." (60) Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." (61) And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." (62) But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
Matthew 10:34-37 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. (35) For I have come to 'SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW'; (36) and 'A MAN'S ENEMIES WILL BE THOSE OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.' (37) He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
These are some hard sayings, especially if you’ve grown up in a society where church is more of a social gathering than a time to worship God Almighty. Other passages say we’re to provide for our families, but these passages seem to clearly show that we’re not to put even family before God. God is serious when he says “Thou shall have no other gods before me.” These gods can be work, play, family, and even church itself if church is a social function rather than a time of worship. Make no mistake regarding the importance of the church:
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Colossians 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,
These two passages show us that Christ gave Himself, not for you or me as autonomous anarchic individuals, but for the church as a body. The Colossians passage says specifically “…for the sake of His body, which is the church.” So, the church is critical and you, as a Christian have no call to- actually, cannot- separate yourself from the church, and worship God. We worship God through Christ (see Romans 5!) and the body of Christ is the church. Anything that distracts or threatens this relationship is a false god. It’s something that we desire more than worship.
Turning back to the 1st Commandments, we see God saying “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..” and as I discussed on Monday, this word “jealous” means that God is protective of our affections. When we turn our affections away from him, or- as I just said- we desire something more than worship, we have a false god on our hands.
But fortunately, as well as being a jealous God, our God is also a God of mercy and love. Back to the 1st Commandment!
For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
If we recognize the fact that we’ve served and continue to serve idols and false gods, and if we repent of this evil deed, God will forgive us. In fact, Jesus Christ has already taken the punishment for our sins. All we have to do is repent and trust that Christ’s atonement satisfies God’s need for justice. John tells us:
1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
John also tells us:
1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (2) And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
And Peter says:
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
John says that Christ is the propitiation for our sins, meaning all of our sins, and Peter says that Christ suffered once for sins. Thus, Christ has suffered once for all our sins. If we confess our sins- and I read this not as confessing each and every single one of our sins (because no man can do that), but rather confessing our sins as a whole, confessing that we are sinners at heart- then God is faithful to forgive us. Even of the sin of idolatry.
Spend some time in prayer and ask God to show you the idols in your life. Then repent and cast those idols aside. Say to them “Be gone, idols! I will worship the Lord my God and Him only.” Through the power of Christ working in you, and only in this manner, will you cast them aside and worship God as He desires, in sprit and truth. May God do this for you, to His glory, in Christ’s name, amen.
False Idols- God's Power Over Idols